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His return to international cricket did not turn out to be a happy one. Lasith Malinga, returning to the Sri Lanka team for the first time since November 2015, could not re-create the magic he is known for. The wily yorkers were there but at a slower speed. He failed to pick any wicket and cost 57 runs. But, what cost Sri Lanka more was his drop catch of Faf du Plessis when the South Africa batsman was on eight.
It summed up the Sri Lankan performance as well. The team, without regular skipper Angelo Mathews, could not match South Africa and suffered their eighth consecutive ODI defeat. Du Plessis went on to score 75 runs and with Hashim Amla, who cracked a sublime century, laid the platform for a big total for South Africa. A late surge of 38 runs off just 20 balls from JP Duminy took their team to 299 for 6. It proved to be too much for Sri Lanka, who were bowled out for 203 in chase, handing South Africa a 96-run win and two points from their group game in the ICC Champions Trophy at The Oval.
Asked to bat first on an unpredictable pitch at The Oval, South Africa took to get going as openers Quinton de Kock and Amla settled in. In the first 10 overs, they managed only 37 runs. In the 13th over, De Kock was caught behind off Nuwan Pradeep.
It brought Faf du Plessis to the crease and with Amla, he constructed the innings in a smooth manner. Du Plessis pulled a short ball from outside off to line-leg where Malinga made a mess of the catch. He first stepped on the ropes and while moving forward, failed to balance and the ball slipped out of his hands. Du Plessis added 67 more runs and 145 with Amla.
Amla worked hard for his runs as he had only five fours and two sixes in his innings of 103. This was his 25th century for South Africa, the most for the nation.
South Africa lost two wickets in two overs, first Du Plessis in the 34th off Pradeep and then AB de Villiers in the next when he tried to pull spinner Prasanna but managed to top edge it. David Miller could only 18 runs to total before falling. The Proteas were 221 for four at the end of 40 overs and it looked like they will touch more than 300.
But, Amla was caught short of his crease, trying to take a second run and then Chris Morris could not take on the Sri Lanka bowlers. Only Duminy scored 38 off 20 balls to push the total.